Black grouse male calling at a lek site in Kuusamo, Finland
© Oliver Smart/Alam
I'm here! Take a look at me!
Spring is lekking season for the black grouse. In the early morning, the male birds, like this fancy fella in Finland, gather on lek sites, often a patch of open ground, to put on a show for the ladies in the audience. The guys flash their white tail feathers, utter cooing and hissing noises, flutter-jump, and pick fights with each other—all to demonstrate their dominance to the watching hens. (Hens are smaller and have gray-brown feathers.) When a hen picks out the male she likes, the two fly off to mate and then go their separate ways. Love connections are brief in the black grouse world.